New Mexico’s employment rate has tanked since 2007 (but newly “right to work” states have seen gains

The Pew Center does some great work in analyzing what is happening economically in the 50 states and the chart below is a great example. It tracks employment in the 50 states (analysis here). 

As can be clearly seen, New Mexico has seen an incredible drop in the percent of the population involved in the workforce since the Great Recession. What does this mean? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Clearly, employment rates are on decline nationwide. Certainly some of that can be attributed to retiring Baby Boomers, but other factors including that lack of a skilled workforce, choices to stay on welfare programs, and localized economic issues may be crucial factors;
  2. New Mexico’s workforce participation (employment) rate was never as high as some of the other states that face large employment drops since the Great Recession which makes New Mexico’s problems even more stark;
  3. The top two states in employment gains (Michigan and Wisconsin) both enacted “right to work” laws between 2007 and 2017.  Another top-performing state (Indiana) did so as well. These are THE 3 states to adopt “right to work” with enough time to make a difference in the economic data during the time period in question. Clearly, the enactment of “right to work” laws is strongly associated with increasing rates of employment.
  4. If New Mexico wants to turn around its hemorrhaging employment situation, it would seem that adopting a “right to work” law is among the surest paths to success.

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